There’s been a lot of bad news about synthetic workout supplements lately: meth-like substances, higher rates of testicular cancer from creatine use and the increased risk of accidentally ingesting a banned substance due to the industry being so poorly regulated. Some of us might be willing to take those risks for short-term gains, but I think most of us, athlete or not, will simply make smarter choices in terms of what fuels our bodies.
It’s been said that the next big frontier in athletic performance is nutrition. Universities like Ohio State have already overhauled their athletic program to make sure their athletes are eating correctly. Long-gone are the days of Babe Ruth shoving a satchel-load of hot dogs into his face. These days, athletes are looking to fuel their bodies with the right foods. And beet juice has been the food at the forefront of this movement.
So if you’re looking to begin supplementing with an all-natural juice with a mountain of science behind it and a human-civilization’s length of use, then this guide can help you gain an athletic edge through beet juice.
When and How Much?
We tell people that Red Rush is best taken two hours before activity. That’s because it takes that long for the body to convert dietary nitrate into peak levels of nitric oxide. This boost can increase stamina by up to 16%. It also improves recovery.
Examine Your Diet
Before you even begin to drink beet juice, examine your diet. Do you regularly eat leafy green vegetables? Most people only get 60-120 mg of dietary nitrate daily. That’s really not much. People on the Mediterranean or the DASH diet tend to get upwards of around 500 mg daily.
So if you’re eating a diet that’s high in vegetable nitrates: spinach, arugula, chard, kale, beets, etc. Then you’re probably good to drink Red Rush beet juice two hours before exercise.
If you’re on that Standard American Diet, chomping up a few pieces of low-nitrate lettuce on your taco or burger every now and then, you may want to consider beginning supplementation a few days prior to activity.
The Body Stores Nitrate for about Two Weeks
A recent study done on beet juice and blood pressure found that the participants who drank beet juice on the regular were able to keep their blood pressures lowered for about two weeks after they stopped drinking it.
It’s important to build a reserve of usable nitrate (stored as nitrite and nitrosothiols) in the body. That could be as easy as introducing more nitrate-rich veggies into the diet or you can just drink more beet juice.
Create A Baseline
On a practical level, you should maintain a healthy diet of leafy greens and other NO precursors like arginine. That way, when you take a regulated beet juice shot like Red Rush, you’ll know that you’re going to get the benefits when you need it without surprises. And the benefits of beet juice extend beyond providing the body with materials needed to create nitric oxide.
When high levels of nitrate are present in the blood, the liver stops producing as much erythropoietin, the red-blood-cell-producing hormone. Too few red blood cells cause anemia, so the kidneys begin producing the hormone. Then the liver and the kidneys and their “hypoxia-sensing pathways” work in tandem to produce an “optimal minimum hemoglobin concentration. This is likely the mechanism behind nitrate’s ability to decrease the oxygen cost of exercise.
One thing, I do and a few other Red Rush drinkers do is supplement with a lower-nitrate beet juice concentrate like our own RediBeets on days where they aren’t competing or during days they are resting. This helps them get dietary nitrate when they may have no use for peak nitric oxide levels.
Behaviors that Can Undermine Beet Juice Supplementation
The body creates nitric oxide via dietary nitrate through a circuitous route from mouth to stomach to salivary glands then to the intestines. It requires beneficial bacteria in both the stomach and the mouth. Therefore:
- No alcoholic mouthwash, cinnamon gum or anti-bacterial gum at least five hours prior to supplementation.
- Avoid antacids, at least a half-day prior to supplementation.
- Antibiotics are unavoidable sometimes, but just know that they will kill beneficial bacteria.
- Soda, alcohol, inactivity and fatty foods can cause long-term damage to the veins, diminishing your body’s ability to produce endothelial nitric oxide.
Behaviors that May Improve Beet Juice Supplementation
There are supplements and activities that can improve your body’s ability to generate nitric oxide like,
- Staying active keeps the veins healthy
- Cocoa increases the bioavailability of nitric oxide
- CoQ10 has been linked to improved endothelial function
- Consider probiotics to keep a healthy gut
- Use Berkeley Nitric Oxide Test Strips to monitor your nitric oxide levels
- Get plenty of vitamin D. It enhances the production of nitric oxide in the inner layers of the blood vessels
Side Effects :
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there are no real side effects of beet juice. It may turn your waste pink or red due to the high concentrate of beet pigmentation. This, however, is harmless, akin to that sulfuric smell caused by eating asparagus.
Like all food, there are some who suffer from beet allergies. There is also a rare genetic predisposition that puts few at risk for kidney stones. And finally, if you suffer from low blood pressure or are on a potassium-restricted diet, you should consult a healthcare professional before initiating a beet-juicing regimen.